mountains between caspian and black sea
Geologically, the Caucasus Mountains belong to a system that extends from southeastern Europe into Asia and is considered a border between them. The Greater Caucasus Mountains are mainly composed of Cretaceous and Jurassic rocks with the Paleozoic and Precambrian rocks in the higher regions. Some volcanic formations are found throughout the range. On the other hand, the Lesser Caucasus Mountains are formed predominantly of the Paleogene rocks with a much smaller portion of the Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks. The evolution of the Caucasus began from the Late Triassic to the Late Jurassic during the Cimmerian orogeny at the active margin of the Tethys Ocean while the uplift of the Greater Caucasus is dated to the Miocene during the Alpine orogeny.
The Caucasus Mountains formed largely as the result of a tectonic plate collision between the Arabian plate moving northwards with respect to the Eurasian plate. As the Tethys Sea was closed and the Arabian Plate collided with the Iranian Plate and was pushed against it and with the clockwise movement of the Eurasian Plate towards the Iranian Plate and their final collision, the Iranian Plate was pressed against the Eurasian Plate. As this happened, the entire rocks that had been deposited in this basin from the Jurassic to the Miocene were folded to form the Greater Caucasus Mountains. This collision also caused the uplift and the Cenozoic volcanic activity in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains.
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On paper, such a region would appear to offer world-class adventure and exploration opportunities for the intrepid and responsible outdoor enthusiast. Despite this, the region remains relatively little-visited, and the benefits of responsible enjoyment of geography remain unrealised. Access to wilderness areas is difficult due to a lack of reliable, recent and detailed data. The best available topographic maps are Soviet-made military maps dating back to before the Cold War, unavailable to the public and decades out of date. Public domain aerial imagery is inconsistent and often at too low a resolution to be useful to the hiker. Open-source mapping varies enormously in accuracy and completeness, often having been created by untrained hobbyists from second-hand sources.
The parts the Caucasus mountain range in Russia are known as the North Caucasus and the countries of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, are referred to collectively as the South Caucasus. The Transcaucasian Trail network will link together national parks in the South Caucasus. While the name “Transcaucasian Trail” is evocative of Transcaucasia, a historical name for the South Caucasus which means “the other side of the Caucasus,” we prefer Transcaucasian Trail to be interpreted as “across the Caucasus,” as in Trans-Siberian Railway or the Trans-Canada Trail.
South of the Greater Caucasus, on the Black Sea coast, lies the alluvial Kolkhida Lowland, site of ancient Colchis. South of the range on the Caspian side, the Shirak Steppe, between the Greater and Lesser Caucasus ranges, falls sharply into the Kura-Aras (Kura-Araks) Lowland. At the centre of this extensive depression the Kura River receives its major right-bank tributary, the Aras (Azerbaijani: Araz) River. To the northeast the hills of southeastern Kobystan separate the Kura-Aras Lowland from the Abşeron Peninsula; and to the extreme southeast the narrow Länkäran Lowland extends south between the Caspian Sea and the Talish (Talysh) Mountains, which reach elevations exceeding 8,000 feet (2,400 metres).
Caucasia includes not only the mountain ranges of the Caucasus proper but also the country immediately north and south of them. The land north of the Greater Caucasus is called Ciscaucasia (Predkavkazye, or “Hither Caucasia”) and that south of it is Transcaucasia (Zakavkazye, or “Farther Caucasia”). The whole region, which has an area of 170,000 square miles (440,000 square km), is nevertheless predominantly mountainous. It extends southward from the lowlands of the Kuma and Manych river basins (the Kuma-Manych Depression) in the north to the northern frontiers of Turkey and Iran in the south and so comprises the southernmost portion of Russia (including Dagestan and several other administrative units constituted on an ethnic basis) and the Transcaucasian republics of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
The history and the ethnic composition of Caucasia were determined by its location on the European-Asian frontier. Except for eastern Subcaucasia, with its arid steppes and lowlands of the Caspian littoral, this region was repeatedly crossed by migrating peoples from the East. The mountains served as an obstacle to the migrations and a refuge for many small indigenous peoples. No large and lasting independent states, except Georgia and Armenia, ever arose in Caucasia. The region was usually subject to the political and cultural domination of the neighboring peoples—the Scythians, Huns, Khazars, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Turks. The Mongol invasions of the 13th century and Mongol control of Subcaucasia had a great impact on the region. In the 15th century Caucasia became an object of contention between Iran and Ottoman Turkey. Christianity reached Transcaucasia in the 4th century and Subcaucasia (Taman Peninsula) in the 6th. The Arabs introduced Islam, which by the 18th century was adopted by all the peoples of the region except the Georgians, Armenians, and, partly, the Ossetians. Russia began to expand into the region in the 18th century and by the beginning of the 19th century controlled most of it. In spite of resistance from the Caucasian peoples, the process of conquest was completed by the 1860s and led to an almost full Slavicization of Subcaucasia, where, apart from Dagestan, indigenous peoples account for scarcely one-eighth of the population (see Kuban). In Transcaucasia, however, the population consists mainly of Georgians (3.5 million), Azerbaijanians (over 4 million), and Armenians (2.5 million), with Russians and Ukrainians accounting for over 1 million, or one-tenth of the population.
Caucasia. A large region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea on the border between Eastern Europe and Asia. It is traversed by the Caucasus Mountains, from which it derives its name. In the north, Caucasia extends to the Kuma-Manych Depression and, in the south, to the northwestern border of Turkey and northern border of Iran. The region covers an area of over 440,000 sq km and in 1959 had a population of 27 million. Its northwestern part is settled by Ukrainians.